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The Marie Key Day Care Center began January 26, 1975, an outgrowth of the Meriwether Home. The center was formed in response to a nation-wide shortage of day care facilities to meet the needs of parents of pre-school children who had to work full time. There were approximately 1000 children of pre-school age in the surrounding public housing buildings of the center alone; not to mention the many other low and middle income families in the community. Over 90% of the children at the center came from one-parent families where the freedom to enter job training programs or get a job was dependent on the availability of day care.

Key Day Care was named after Marie B. Schanks Key, born May 16, 1900 in Richmond Virginia. According to the “Who’s Who in Colored America” published in 1950, Mrs. Key was a teacher in the Richmond public schools 1918-1924, family welfare caseworker 1928-1930, policewoman with the Washington DC police department 1930-1944, director of minority services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America 1944-1948, and director of the Meriwether Home in 1950. [1]

In 1973 Dr. Joseph C McKinney, Board Chairman of the Meriwether Home along with Mrs. Mildred Carter, Mr. Peter Ridley and Mr. Reginald Washington founded Key Day Care to provide for the physical, intellectual and cultural development of at least 50 pre-school children.

They provided a year round program, with a pre-school/Kindergarten program September – May and a review/recreation program June – August. They had extended hours from 7am – 6pm. Their educational programming included Language, Art, Social Studies, Numbers, Science and Crafts. For almost 25 years, Key Day Care provided services to the community.

They abandoned 733 Euclid St. around 1998, most likely due to lack of funds. A stroke suffered by Dr. Joseph McKinney, a primary supporter of the center may have also contributed to its demise. Some paperwork and many photos of children and staff were pulled from the rubble of the abandoned building. A continuing effort of ECAC will be to identify the photos and accurately document this chapter of 733 Euclid St.

Fleming, James and Christian Burckel. Who’s Who In Colored America. Christian & Burckel & Associates, 7th Edition. 1950, (p. 325)

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